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What is Keratoconus?

Chart Showing KeratoconusKeratoconus is a relatively common condition, in our practice in which the cornea (the clear front portion of the eye) becomes thin and protrudes. Keratoconus literally means a cone-shaped cornea. This abnormal shape can cause serious distortion of vision.

Keratoconus describes a cornea that weakens as collagen fibers deteriorate, causing the cornea to adopt a cone-like shape. Keratoconus can cause blurred vision, light sensitivity glares, and decreased night vision. In its early stages, keratoconus may be treated with the use of prescription glasses or contact lenses. However, if the condition becomes advanced, cornea transplant surgery may become necessary. This involves removing the damaged cornea and replacing it with healthy donor tissue.

The National Keratoconus Foundation (NKCF) is an extraordinary not-for-profit organization. The NKCF provides excellent educational materials and support for patients with keratoconus, free of charge. The NKCF also funds research designed to learn more about the causes and treatment if this condition.

What Causes Keratoconus?

Research indicates that keratoconus may be caused by an excess of enzymes that break down the proteins within the corneal surface, causing the cornea to thin and protrude.

It is believed that keratoconus is of genetic inheritance. Blood relatives of someone affected with keratoconus have minor changes in their corneas that may indicate that keratoconus probably varies in both specific genetic cause, as well as in its expression within a family. Vigorous eye rubbing can contribute to the progression of the disease. People with keratoconus should avoid rubbing their eyes.

What are the Symptoms of Keratoconus?

Blurred and distorted vision is the earliest symptoms of keratoconus. Symptoms usually appear in the late teens or early twenties. The disease will often progress slowly for 10 to 20 years. In the early stages, the vision may only be slightly affected and may progress quickly. Visual blur, distortion, glare, light sensitivity, and corneal irritation are amongst the early signs. Each eye in an individual may be affected differently. As the disease progresses and the cornea steepens and scars the visual distortion will increase. A sudden visual decrease can occur if the cornea swells. The cornea swells when the elastic part of the cornea develops a tiny crack, created by the strain of the cornea’s protruding cone-like shape. The swelling may persist for weeks to months. As the crack heals it is gradually replaced by scar tissue.

Keratoconus vs Normal Eye

How is Keratoconus Treated?

Visually glasses, soft, and hard rigid contacts lenses as utilized. As the keratoconus progresses the eyeglasses and soft contacts cannot correct the vision sufficiently. When that occurs rigid contact lenses are prescribed.

When contact lenses cannot improve your vision adequately, a corneal transplant may be necessary. Keratoconus is one of the most common reasons for a cornea transplant.

New Treatment is Available to Halt the Progression of Keratoconus.

Although not fully FDA approved here in the United States, collagen cross-linking (CXL) has yielded good outcomes in studies performed in Europe since 1999 for various forms of keratoconus. This non-invasive procedure uses ultraviolet light which reacts with riboflavin which is applied to the cornea via drops. This procedure strengthens the cornea by allowing the cornea to form new crosslinks between the collagen fibers within the cornea. This corneal strengthening aids in halting any further progression of the disease.

There are only a limited number of sites in the U.S. that have been invited to participate in the investigational studies of Corneal Collagen Crosslinking (CXL) for keratoconus and ectasia. Chicago Cornea Consultants, Ltd. was the first practice to offer this procedure in the Chicago area, in 2010. To schedule an appointment for a CXL evaluation, call any of our offices and ask to speak to the Vision Correction Surgical Coordinator, or use the contact form below.

INTACS Corneal Implants

Intacs are revolutionary prescription inserts designed to alter the shape of the cornea for patients with keratoconus, a condition that affects one out of 2000 people.

Keratoconus is a disease that causes thinning of the cornea, the clear, dome-like surface of the eye. The pressure within the eye causes the thinned cornea to bulge outward in an irregular, cone-like shape. The change in corneal shape causes vision problems that in early stages can be corrected by rigid contact lenses or prescription glasses. In later stages of the disease, a corneal transplant is required. Intacs can delay or eliminate the need for corneal transplant surgery.

Placed in the periphery of the cornea, Intacs are uniquely designed to help restore the cornea’s natural, dome-like shape. Unlike corneal transplant surgery, Intacs require no removal of corneal tissue. Intacs instead provide shape and structure to a cornea affected by keratoconus, helping to maintain or provide a dome-like shape. In certain patients with Intacs who later underwent corneal transplant surgery, their transplants were successfully completed without complications.

To learn more about Intacs click here, or contact Chicago Cornea Consultants, Ltd. in Chicago, Highland Park and Hoffman Estates today.

LASIK , or Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis, is a surgical procedure that is designed to reduce your dependency on glasses and contact lenses. Here at Chicago Cornea Consultants, Ltd., our LASIK surgeons use the latest in laser vision correction technology to ensure each patient receives optimal results.
Laser Vision
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Keratoconus describes a cornea that weakens as collagen fibers deteriorate, causing the cornea to adapt a cone-like shape. Keratoconus can cause blurred vision, light sensitivity, glares, and decreased night vision. In its early stages, keratoconus may be treated with the use of prescription glasses or contact lenses.  Keratoconus is also one of the most common reasons for corneal transplant, and one of the most successful. call any of our offices and ask to speak to the Vision Correction Surgical Coordinator, or use the contact form below.
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Loss of near vision, or presbyopia, happens when your natural lens loses elasticity, making it difficult to change your focus to see objects up close.  It affects most people in their 40s and early 50s. The hassle and inconvenience of readers is driving many patients to look for a better way to improve their near vision without glasses. The Raindrop Near Vision Inlay is a simple solution to presbyopia. This innovative and unique procedure is an effective alternative to the hassle of readers. Raindrop Near Vision Inlay is a minimally invasive and long term solution to improve near vision without glasses.
reading vision
Contact lenses are medical devices which interact directly with the ocular surface of the eye. At Chicago Cornea Consultants, we provide exceptional care to ensure that you obtain the best possible vision with contact lenses that fit appropriately and maximize health benefits.